Football

Watch: Jonathan Walters Admits Ireland Camp Was An Unhappy One Last Year

Watch: Jonathan Walters Admits Ireland Camp Was An Unhappy One Last Year

Jonathan Walters was a magnificent servant to Ireland. Despite battling through injuries for the last few years of his career, he always made himself available for his country. When he played, he left it all out on the pitch.

The news of his retirement today was met with sadness from Irish football fans. Walters has been battling with his latest injury for a number of months now, and he had the feeling for quite some time that this one would end his career.

Speaking on Virgin Media Sport this evening Walters admitted that the time he spent along in rehabbing the injury gave him the time to come to terms with his retirement.

While some players seen Ireland as a backup option in their international career, it was never that way for Walters. It was always his dream to pull on a green jersey.

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I get a lot of stick because I have an English accent. I was born in England, but my Mum is from Dublin, in Ballybough. Every time we weren't in school, we were in Ireland. We spent summers here, Christmases here, Easters here, every time growing up.

It was what I wanted at a very young age. I got into the academy system quite late... and I had an exceptional year my first year and I think I was the top scorer in England for my age group. I got asked what I wanted to do and that was my answer straight away (to play for Ireland)...

Ona personal point of view it means everything really. That's the most difficult I'll find I think, going back looking through old photos, watching old videos, that's the most difficult side of it, the Ireland thing.

I could park club football to the side believe it or not, the Irish side of it is the one thing I will miss, massively.

While Walters' time with Ireland had some fantastic highs, including reaching two European Championship finals, his final year with the team was the low point. Results were incredibly poor, and the squad seem to be a fractured one.

Leaks started to emerge about unsavoury incidents between players and members of staff, with the infamous Stephen Ward WhatsApp message the most well known example.

While Walters said he always enjoyed coming over to play with Ireland, he admits that the atmosphere in the camp changed during the last year or so.

During the break in club football the lads used to get days off, but you didn't care because you just loved coming to meet everyone and see everyone, being involved and playing for Ireland. It was an unbelievable feeling.

In the past year that changed with a lot of people, the atmosphere went right downhill. It was difficult. You could probably go into a lot of things, and nows probably not the best time to go into it.

We all know the WhatsApp has a lot to answer for with Stephen Ward, but I think that's a mild version of what actually happened. There were various things like that.

Despite his final career with Ireland ending in a disappointing fashion, he admits that he still has massive respect for Martin O'Neill:

That changed, but I was playing and the manager would look after me. At club level I had a lot of injuries and wasn't playing a lot during the course of the years when I would come here. But he put a lot of trust in me to play during the games, big important games as well.

So I have a lot of respect for the manager to do that for me as well.

SEE ALSO: Watch: Jonathan Walters' Passion For Ireland On Full Display In 2015 Interview

Gary Connaughton

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